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Canada calls for Sri Lanka boycott

Sep 12, 2011 9:59:57 PM - thesundayleader.lk

The Canadian prime minister has called upon heads of state to consider Sri Lanka’s human rights record before attending the Commonwealth leaders’ summit (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo.

Answering a question by a journalist in Toronto, PM Stephen Harper said he has expressed his reservations on Sri Lanka hosting the 2013 summit.

“I intend to make clear to my fellow leaders at the Commonwealth that if we do not see progress in Sri Lanka in terms of human rights and some of the issues that you raised, I will not as Prime Minister be attending that Commonwealth summit,” he said.

PM Harper’s remark at a round table with a group of journalists who questioned Canada’s stance on allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka, is the first indication by any head of state to boycott the summit hosted by Sri Lanka.

Earlier, a group of countries including Canada, Australia and UK objected to Sri Lanka holding the 2013 summit due to allegations of serious human rights violations.

Prime Minister Harper added that Canada is still seriously concerned about the rights situation in the island nation and expressed hope that other leaders will help his call for a boycott.

“I hope that others will take a similar position, but I hope that this will pressure the Sri Lankan government to take the appropriate actions,” said Mr Harper.

The Canadian prime minister reiterated the support of the international calls for an independent investigation into the issues raised by the panel of experts appointed by UN secretary-general.

A group of international human rights organisations last week said they were “gravely concerned” about the ongoing discussions to hold next Commonwealth leaders’ summit in 2013.

The group urged the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to set a number of benchmarks including implementation of the UN expert panel report in order for Sri Lanka government to “prove itself worthy” of holding the summit.

The next CHOGM is to be held in Australia on 28 October. (BBC Sinhala)